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Report: Ultra-Orthodox party leader stalling Netanyahu’s new government

Aryeh Deri cannot be appointed minister unless a bill passes to allow him to serve despite past criminal conviction

Shas party head Aryeh Deri speaks to supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem, Nov. 1, 2022. (Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing one of his biggest challenges to forming a coalition. The ultra-Orthodox party Shas wants its leader Aryeh Deri to be appointed as a minister, according to a Kan News report.

Only one problem: Deri was convicted of tax fraud twice – the latest when he admitted guilt in a plea deal earlier this year in exchange for a suspended jail sentence.

Under Israeli law, Deri would have to submit an appeal to the Central Elections Committee in regard to serving as a government minister, and the committee can refuse his appointment. Deri was serving as a member of parliament earlier this year before his tax fraud conviction, which prompted him to resign and pay a $60,000 fine to avoid jail time. 

In 2000, Deri served 22 months in prison after being convicted for taking bribes as Israel’s interior minister in the 1990s. After a seven-year ban from politics, he returned to lead Shas and was re-elected to the Knesset. 

Deri’s Shas party introduced a new bill on Thursday that, if passed, will permit Israelis who have not served an active prison term in the seven years prior, to be appointed government ministers. 

Israel’s Kan 11 channel reported that only after the bill is passed in three readings will Shas leaders “green light” the swearing in of a new government. The process could take several days or even longer. 

Shas holds 10 seats in the newly-elected 120-member parliament.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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